For 2020 we’ve identified 20 products across a wide range of applications that are all available for less than £20,000 – and some of them for less than £10,000.
1 Canon imagePress C165
Price From £12,500 as print engine, PostScript driver and output tray
The Canon imagePress C165 is a versatile multi-functional printer designed to produce both professional quality print and office documents, and as such is well suited to a range of businesses and print environments. It uses the manufacturer’s imageRunner Advance technology and a suite of easy-to-use imagePress professional tools. Canon promises seamless integration with the cloud, alongside secure, automated, and on-demand printing thanks to uniFlow device management software. It offers output at 2,400dpi, pro-level colour management tools, a range of finishing options and the ability to take sheets up to 1,300mm in length and up to 350gsm, which make this an accomplished addition to any print setup.
Canon says “The imagePress C165 can help businesses to push their creative limits, whilst also increasing customer engagement and broadening print capabilities”
2 Ricoh Pro L5100 series
The Pro L5100 series are roll-to-roll wide-format printers aimed at sign and display graphics producers, but may also be of interest to screen printing businesses. They can be used for anything from large-scale outdoor posters and building wraps through to in-store signage and fine art prints, including banners, vehicle wraps soft signage and more. These printers offer high-quality output in fast-drying latex inks suitable for a wide range of display media at speeds up to 46.7sqm/hr (for outdoor applications). There is a choice of widths – 1.3m and 1.6m (54in and 64in) – and both are available in CMYK or CMYK plus white and print at up to 1,200dpi.
Ricoh says “The Ricoh Pro L5130 and Pro L5160 will seriously expand your offering for indoor and outdoor use”
3 AMS Eco Mailbag
Magazine publishers are under a lot of pressure from readers to ensure that subscriber mailings are as environmentally friendly as possible. Paper is the wrapping material de jour, but paper is bulky and heavy. Could compostable be the way to go? AMS certainly thinks so. The Eco-Mailbag is a low-cost wrapping system that offers a secure and eco-conscious way to enclose and mail short runs of magazines, brochures and catalogues. AMS’s compostable film wrap is made from a by-product of crisp manufacturing and is highly transparent. It is also certified as home compostable, so it can be disposed of with food waste, garden compost or in green council recycling bins. It is also completely biodegradable and contains no oil-based materials or plastics. The manual feed system, which can wrap items up to 250mm wide, including A4 and A5 packs, can process up to 1,300 mail packs per hour.
AMS says “The Eco-Mailbag offers customers an alternative to using our regular recyclable polythene which can also be used on the system”
4 Epson SureColor SC-S80600
Price From around £18,000
The SC-S80600 is Epson’s flagship, 10-colour, 1.6m (64in) large-format signage printer intended to go up against latex devices from Ricoh and HP. It uses Epson’s own quick-drying, low-odour UltraChrome GS3 eco-solvent inks and Micro Piezo TFP printheads. The 10-colour inkset – comprising black, light black, metallic silver, cyan, light cyan, yellow, magenta, light magenta, red, orange and white – is said to hit 98% of the Pantone gamut. The printer can produce everything from simple signage to high-end displays and decor on a wide range of substrates including clear film, vinyl, canvas and photographic paper. It features a sophisticated substrate handling system with advanced auto-tension control, wide-diameter feed rollers and anti-static flexible pressure rollers to optimise grip feed and accuracy. It prints at 1,440x1,440dpi.
Epson says “A class-leading series of printers that are loaded with Epson’s advanced engineering to deliver the ultimate in accuracy, quality and productivity”
5 Alwan ColorHub
Price From around £9,000
Alwan ColorHub is a tool intended to help printers improve colour matching and increase quality and productivity. ColorHub is a colour management server that generates dynamic device link profiles and applies them to PDF job files. It can work with any print process to match results over time as well as between different printers. It’s compatible with ISO 12647 and the US G7 standards as well as the Fogra 39L. ColorHub analyses the PDF to identify all elements, their colour description and colour spaces (including spot colours). Each object is optimised for area coverage and ink consumption, and separated to the target colour space. It can reduce ink usage by up to 50%, according to Alwan.
Alwan says “ColorHub’s award-winning Dynamic DeviceLinks technology lets you print more accurate colours than any other colour management server”
6 Fastbind Casematic a46a
The Casematic a46a is a do-it-all semi-automatic casemaking system for short runs. It is designed to simplify the process of making hard covers at up to 120bph. While previous models were designed for table-top use, the a46a comes complete with stand, two movable side tables and a shelf. It features an adjustable light table to aid positioning the cover, the clamp that holds the cover automatically engages and disengages and there is a vacuum to hold materials in place and an airbed to ease moving jobs around. Said to be simple and intuitive to use, users should be able to produce a book from the very first time.
UK supplier Ashgate Automation says “Its USP is the ability to handle everything, from one-offs to medium-length runs, and to realistically only need to print one copy rather than three to get one book out”
7 Barbieri Spectro LFP qb
Price Around £7,600
The Spectro LFP qb is a flatbed spectrophotometer that reads either reflective or transmissive media and measures the colours in LAB values. It’s aimed at the graphic arts market, and particularly the sign and display segment, as well as the textile and packaging sectors. Barbieri says it is a fully automated ‘plug and play’ device. You just take your printed sample, place it on the measuring table, aligning it with the head, and then press the button. It supports the new ISO 13655-2017 standard that includes M1 for both reflective and transmissive media (for daylight D50 for measuring papers with optical brighteners), M0 (CIE illuminant A), M2 (to counter UV illumination) and M3 (for polarisation), and which also forms the basis of the Fogra51 colour management. It can also be used to measure fluorescent inks, which are becoming more common, particularly with textile printers aimed at producing sportswear.
Barbieri says “It is ideal for companies with several large-format or flatbed printers, those who print both offset and digital, and any who work in high-end, niche markets such as textiles, ceramics or glass printing”
8 OKI Pro1050
Price From around £11,500 with the rewinder an optional extra
The OKI Pro1050 is a neat desktop label printer that use LED toner technology to print in CMYK plus white. The device is targeted at light and medium production volumes, on paper and synthetic materials. The white option means it can print onto metallised and dark materials, but it can also just be used as a CMYK printer. OKI says the printer was easy-to-use, with robust output suitable for environments likely to involve water, oil or alcohol spills, as well as being resistant to sunlight. The Pro1050 prints roll-to-roll or roll-to-cut. Maximum resolution is 1,200x1,200dpi with print width ranging from 25.4mm to 126mm. The duty cycle is up to 160,000 pages per month, with OKI stating that the typical target market would be users who require around 5,000 labels per day.
OKI says “Ideally suited to brand owners and print houses, the Pro Series is designed to print any quantity from a single label to many thousands, reducing wastage and enabling you to print what you need”
9 Roland DG TrueVis VG2
Price From around £13,000 (offer until the end of March)
The VG2 series is the second generation of the VG family of wide-format printer-cutters, which were first unveiled at Fespa 2016. The VG2 range comprises the 1.6m-wide VG2-640 (64in) the 1.3m VG2-540 (54in) and are described as a reliable, affordable and high-quality print-and-cut solution. The machines benefit from more than 40 modifications over the original VG series including the use of Roland’s new eco-solvent TR2 inkset and the addition of orange ink, bringing the total number of colours up to eight. The new ink technology is designed for faster turnaround, making prints ready for lamination within six hours of printing. The TR2 inkset has been approved for use on the VG2 machines by both 3M MCS and Avery Dennison’s ICS warranty programmes. In eight-colour mode, the VG2 can print at speeds up to 12.3sqm/hr, while those in double-four-colour configuration can print as fast as 30.4sqm/hr.
Roland DG says “Award-winning TrueVIS VG2 represents the next generation in print-and-cut: the power to meet then exceed your most demanding print requirements”
10 Kala AppliKator
Price From £8,500
The Kala AppliKator is a modular applicator table for flatbed mounting and laminating that can grow with the requirements of your business. The base model has a usable area of 1.7x2.07m but can be extended in length indefinitely in 2.35m sections as necessary. The machine is assembled at the user’s premises, reducing transport costs and enabling it to be sited in places that would be inaccessible to pre-assembled models. Roller elevation is provided by high-speed electric motors located on both sides of the machine, so there is no requirement for compressed air and smaller boards do not need to be placed on the centre of the table.
Kala says “A table that can grow to the evolution of your workshop”
11 AstroNova QuickLabel Kiaro!
Price From around £6,800
The Kiaro! is a colour inkjet label printer with a resolution of 1,200dpi targeted at high-mix, low-volume product manufacturers or packaging partners who want to gain control of their label production requirements. It is suitable for printing on-demand labels or tags on gloss, semi-gloss or matt materials and because the ink is resistant to oil, water and solvents, the machine can be used for applications ranging from food and beverage to chemicals, cosmetics, medical and industrial labelling. It has a top print speed of 305mm/sec and a high-speed auto-cutter as standard. Other benefits include the ability to print narrow widths as small as 19.05mm, seamless networking capabilities and extended printhead life, the manufacturer says.
AstroNova says “The QL-120 allows new and existing customers to print vivid, compelling labels for their branded products cost effectively, when they need them”
12 Afinia Label Mini DLF
Price Around £7,500 for the DLF-140S
The Mini DLF machines are small-footprint versions of the company’s full-size label finishers, designed for table-top use to reduce space requirements. They can convert low to medium volumes of labels into finished rolls, ready for application and, since no dies are required, cut paths can be varied as often as desired, giving users the flexibility to create any label shape, on the fly. There are two models: the DLF-140S and the DLF-220S, which handle labels of up to 140mm and 22mm wide respectively.
Afinia says “Ultra-precise cutting abilities easily produce beautiful full-bleed labels without a need for costly dies”
13 Ropi Roto-Press
Price Around £5,300
The new Roto-Press processor is an ergonomic work-station for all post printing applications where flat papers and cardboards need to be glued and pressed in small numbers by hand. It features two synchronous steel double-cylinders with variable pressure adjustment. The step-less speed adjustment allows for different material requirements and operation cycles. The ‘ball-point’ design of the Hand-Gluing system pencil is said to guarantee clean and accurate glue dots or lines and the manufacturer said complicated and reproducible glue patterns can be achieved with the device. A 4mm nozzle is the standard option, but 3mm and 6mm diameters are also available. The machine is supplied with either one or two glue pencils, the latter option enabling two people to simultaneously work on one system.
Ropi says “A cost-efficient, manual flat gluing and pressing device in only one work pass”
14 Intec ColorFlare CF1200LX
Price Around £12,000
The ColorFlare series of machines enable users to add foil and lamination effects to printed products, including holographic finishes for short-run, on-demand digital applications, as well as for laminating traditional litho output. They are intended for short runs of products such as greetings cards, wedding stationery, business cards and packaging. The ColorFlare CF1200LX laminates at up to 12m/min and foils at up to 6m/min, depending on substrate thickness. It can handle base substrates weighing up to 400gsm and sized from A6 to 1.2mx340mm and benefits from a pneumatic pressure system for consistent high pressures. The base CF1200 model features an input arm while the CF1200LX includes an extended inclining delivery table to make semi-automatic feeding easier and a premium finish flaring assembly to produce wrinkle-free foiling with a mirror finish effect as well as a second flaring roller assembly. Target customers range from small commercial printers and high-street printers to larger companies that run the likes of HP Indigos and are looking to add something extra to their offering.
Intec says “Easily add stunning metallic foils in a range of colours, or lamination including matt, gloss and digitally over-printable soft-touch, as well as a wonderful range of holographic effects”
15 HP Stitch S300
Price Around £12,000
The Stitch is HP’s first move into dye-sublimation and the S300 is its entry-level device with an average monthly printing volume of 1,200sqm. The 1.6m-wide printer has been designed for ease-of-use and is capable of both transfer and direct-to-fabric printing. The manufacturer makes much of the device’s colour-matching capabilities. It comes with HP’s Ergosoft RIP, HP transfer paper and the manufacturer’s full profile library. One step up – but beyond our £20,000 limit – is its sibling, the S500, which HP has described as a “workhorse” for high-production operations, designed to keep up with demanding workloads in markets such as sportswear, interior decor and soft signage. A pioneering feature of the Stitch family will be its user-replaceable printheads which the company believes offers users greater peace of mind by saving on downtime. Alongside the printers, HP has also launched its own branded dye-sublimation papers and a specialised dye-sub thermal inkjet ink billed as the first of its kind by HP. RA Smart is HP’s chosen reseller for the Stitch family in the UK and Ireland.
HP says “Predictable colour faster and easier than ever before”
16 Esko ArtiosCAD
Price Around £400 per month per user for the full-featured Prime subscription
ArtiosCAD is a design tool for packaging and POS items, or indeed anything that you might want to construct out of paper or board. It is designed to boost productivity for packaging professionals handling structural design, product development, virtual prototyping and manufacturing operations. The package will enable you to create packaging or POS products in two dimensions and then visualise and test them in three before moving onto production. Users can create new designs from scratch or use an extensive library of folded carton or corrugated templates.
Esko says “The world’s most popular structural design software for packaging”
17 Inc.jet IMC Lite
Price From around £12,000 for a three-cartridge system
IMC Lite is an inkjet addressing system for mail base, enveloping, stitching lines and polywrapping applications and is intended as a lower-cost option for smaller businesses. It’s available in either three- or four-cartridge configurations, with print widths of 37mm and 50mm respectively. The system uses thermal inkjet technology from HP and UK distributor Engelmann & Buckham says it is capable of running at speeds that will outstrip any poly or paper wrapping line.
18 Morgana Laminator Pro 450
Price Around £19,000
The Laminator Pro 450 is an auto-feed device for laminating sheets up to 350gsm. It features an integrated compressor and pneumatic system for print lamination up to a width of 450mm and combines speed, easy operation and quality. Speed is adjustable but the deep-pile automatic feed means the Pro 450 is capable of laminating up to 1,875 SRA3 sheets per hour.
Plockmatic says “With its fast production speed and simple to use setup, the Laminator Pro 450 is the perfect investment for ‘on demand’ printing and finishing”
19 CreaseStream Junior 75
Price Around £10,000
The Junior 75 is a creasing device designed to deliver a perfect finish on larger-format digital print with a max sheet width of 750mm. The company says the device is ideal for finishing posters, menus, brochures and any other large-scale jobs. The creasing technology, developed by Tech-ni-fold founder Graham Harris, gently manipulates, stretches and prepares the area of stock that is prone to cracking so that the folds are smooth and damage free. It runs at up to 3,000sph, offers three styles of crease and will work on the full range of digital stocks.
CreaseStream says “The CreaseStream Junior 75 allows any print business that produces digital work to finish it to an exceptionally high standard with minimal effort”
20 Mosca SoniXs TR-6
Price From around £16,000
Mosca makes strapping systems for a wide range of applications, including wrapping bundles of magazines. The clever SoniXs series of systems use ultrasonic technology, rather than heat, to seal the ends of the plastic straps. Mosca says the high-frequency sound waves generate stronger bonds on the straps, the machines are faster in operation and use less energy than thermal models. The SoniXs TR-6 are fully automatic, self-calibrating systems that process PET or polypropylene straps and because of the high strength of the welds, the straps can be thinner – another saving for users. Mosca says the ultrasonic sealing head operates almost wear-free and is easy to maintain. The sealing head can also be easily dismantled without tools for servicing.
Mosca says “Mosca strapping machines secure valuable items of all shapes and sizes across a vast array of industries – always reliable and adapted to the individual needs of each product”